• Why M/M Romance?

    Posted on May 4, 2012 by in Talking About Writing

    People are finding their way to this blog, which is fun, and we’ve had some good discussions.  One commenter asked:

    Though Olivia, can I ask you a very invasive (and possibly rude) question? I’m just curious and don’t mean to be rude but what is it about gay sex that turns women on? Why write a m/m romance when you can write a regular romance and imagine that you are the women who is sweep off her feet by a hunky, rich billionaire?

    I think that’s a great question, so I told him I’d answer it in a blog post.

    In my experience, this is a really interesting genre to write in.  Those who read and write m/m romance know how prevalent women writers are.  Those who don’t, don’t understand the appeal (obviously my poster reads in the genre–so please don’t think I’m talking about you/him!).   The female friends I’ve told about Redemption and my indie writing efforts have all been supportive (to varying degrees), but ever single one of them–because they don’t read m/m romance–reacted with some degree of bemusement.

    “Why the hell are you writing that?” was a common reaction.  One went further to ask, “What do you even know about that?”

    I’m a straight woman.  I’ve got many gay friends, but I didn’t quiz any of them about the mechanics of gay sex.  I’m someone who has come up through fandom.  I’ve written in five different fandoms under various names.  Initially, I wrote m/f romance, because the characters that had pulled me into their world had been involved in a canon relationship I found fascinating.  I only ventured over into the slash side of the spectrum about seven years ago.

    Again, it was the characters who pulled me in.  The first pair I “slashed” were, from a canon perspective, straight, ladies’ men.  But because of their personalities, their chemistry, and their circumstances, I had no problem taking their platonic love and turning it into something not so platonic.

    It’s always going to be characters that compel me–other characters, not me.  I’ve no interest in starring in my own love stories/adventures.  I’m also not one of those authors who aspires to write labyrinthine plots or whose passion is tied more to time and place than anything.  What gets me excited is crafting well-developed individuals and taking them on a journey that changes them.

    Romance in general is a genre well-suited for my strengths and interests, and indeed I grew up reading heavily in that genre.  M/M romance lends a level of complexity to the mix.

    Let’s face it, if you’re reading contemporary romance these days, there isn’t the same kind of risk involved for the characters as there might have been a generation or two ago.  We don’t think as much in terms of “forbidden love” or worry about being labeled promiscuous, and sexual relationships between a man and a woman today tend to begin far more casually than they did a century ago–by programming a number into someone’s phone, handing somebody a business card, or getting set up by friends on a blind date.

    One of the draws for me about M/M romance is the tension or potential danger that exists between and within characters–with danger being defined in various ways.  You have, of course, the potential for writers to create characters who are either closeted or struggling with their sexual identities.  You can have situations where a character fears exposure in a way that will compromise them.  You may have characters dealing with issues of self-worth, because of the way society can stigmatize people when it comes to their sexual orientation.

    The sexual act itself is often fraught.  I don’t intend to deal with AIDS and other STDs in my books because I write romances, and for me that level of reality ruins the escapism.  Other authors, though, take a different tack.  But even if you don’t factor in health risks, the act of coitus between two men can take on a level of intensity not typically seen when the two people involved are a man and a woman.  Trust becomes a huge factor, the idea of “submission” can come into play.  It’s fun to write.

    And as I said to my poster, at the end of the day, I like men.  With M/M Romance I get two men to read about and love.  Surely more is better, right?

    And no, I’m not writing menage next.  ;-)

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